WHO Warns New Covid Variants Could Be ‘Fully Resistant’ Against Current Vaccines or Previous Infection As Pandemic Drags On
• New coronavirus variants could arise during the pandemic, rendering current vaccines worthless, according to the World Health Organization.
• “It’s possible that new variants could evade our countermeasures and become fully resistant to current vaccines or past infection, necessitating vaccine adaptations,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
• Reactionary political movements fostered vaccine inequity and “created the ideal conditions for the emergence of new variants,” he said.
The World Health Organization warned on Wednesday that during the pandemic, new coronavirus strains could arise, rendering current vaccines ineffective.
“As this pandemic drags on, it’s possible that new variants could evade our countermeasures and become fully resistant to current vaccines or past infection, necessitating vaccine adaptations,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press conference in Geneva.
Tedros raised the alarm as Covid cases hit record highs in various countries, including the United States. The emergence of the novel and highly transmissible omicron form is fueling the latest surge, which comes more than 21 months after WHO first declared Covid a pandemic.
Tedros reaffirmed his calls for countries to work together to boost global supplies and access to Covid vaccinations and other crucial health equipment.
He also slammed the “populism” and “short-term nationalism” of some political leaders that he said has “undermined equity and created the ideal conditions for the emergence of new variants.”
“Misinformation and disinformation, often spread by a small number of people, have been a constant distraction undermining science and trust in lifesaving health tools,” the world health leader said.
He noted that “in the huge waves of cases currently seen in Europe and in many countries around the world, misinformation which has driven vaccine hesitancy is now translating to the unvaccinated disproportionately dying.”
Experts claim that while Covid vaccines like Pfizer and BioNTech’s shots are still helpful at avoiding severe omicron sickness, they are far less successful at preventing omicron infection. Booster shots, on the other hand, considerably improve protection against symptomatic omicron illness.
If a virus with a vaccine-resistant strain appears, manufacturers will have to alter their vaccines, which “would potentially mean a new supply shortage,” Tedros warned on Wednesday.
It is important for nations to build up their local manufacturing supply of vaccines before that happens, he said.
“This virus will continue to evolve and threaten our health system if we don’t improve the collective response,” Tedros said. “I’m highly concerned that omicron, being more transmissible, circulating at the same time as delta, is leading to a tsunami of cases.”
Vaccine supplies are improving now, he added, while continuing his complaint that affluent countries’ booster-shot programs make it more difficult for impoverished countries to receive immunizations. This growing disparity has the potential to extend the pandemic.